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Filmmaker Vincent Gallo Discusses "The Brown Bunny"

His Adults Only Film Prompts an Adults Only Discussion

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Vincent Gallo Chloe Sevigny Brown Bunny

Vincent Gallo and Chloe Sevigny in "The Brown Bunny"

Photo © Wellspring Media
After verifying no one present at this roundtable interview session with reporters was advertising themselves as working for one paper or media outlet while secretly working for another, filmmaker Vincent Gallo got down to the business of discussing his latest film, “The Brown Bunny.”

In this interview, Gallo talks at length about taking the film to Cannes, changes that were made to the final cut, the sex scene, and “The Brown Bunny” billboard that he designed for Sunset Blvd., which was taken down less than a week after it went up because of the reaction by some to the advertisment’s graphic content.

INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT GALLO:

Is this a different film from the one screened at Cannes?
No, the biggest differences of the movie are as follows: I put a six minute song at the end over black to sort of DJ the crowd out of the theater, to sort of control even the end of the film – meaning the exit of the film. I forgot that people stay and they do these things, but I wanted to control the mood after people digested the film with a song, with a piece of music.

And then I took off about a four minute credit off the beginning of the film, which was the sort of people involved – Kinetique, Wild Bunch, a couple more names. I was trying to sort of settle the audience. I felt that at festivals people – at the big festivals – they really pay attention to the beginning so I put [something] very provocative. You know, the ‘University for the Development and Theory of So and So Presents’ and I put a big focus thing and a gate thing, because I wanted to make sure everything was perfect, then the film starts.

You took all that down?
All that down. So that’s nine minutes of this 25 minute thing. So we’re talking about, really, another 15 minutes because I’ll tell you, it really was… I really cut about 15 minutes out of the actual movie. And here’s what the 15 minutes were: In March when I agreed to go to the Cannes Film Festival, the film was incomplete. It was even incomplete in its shooting. I hadn’t shot the last scene of the film, which needed to be shot in late April because the film wasn’t supposed to be delivered in January. I had to shoot the last scene in April because it involved a racing scene at Willow Springs Raceway where I was going to go to a race, meet a couple of girls at the racetrack, drive around the track in 1st place at the race, and then deliberately drive off the track into a wall and of course kill myself. Because in the Vincent Gallo world, you have to begin with suicide and then you find a way out of it later on. And that’s what I did with “Buffalo 66.” Same thing. So I was planning on shooting the scene in April and I needed… To get more time to finish the film, which I needed for reasons I that won’t bore you with – they were technical reasons – to do the 16 mm blow up to 35 mm, I wanted to do it non-linear. Digitally but non-linear. The machine hadn’t been ever used before and it wasn’t ready. Fotokem said it would be ready in April, they changed their minds and said it would be ready in September. So to get that extra time from the Japanese financiers, which was an immediate “No,” I negotiated this thing where I would present the film to Cannes. And just by presenting the film to Cannes, they had to give me the six months. If Cannes took the film, I would show it. If they didn’t, no problem, I still got the six months.

For some bizarre reason, Thierry Fremaux accepted the film in this extremely – now, by the time it went to Cannes it was much closer to being finished, but the version that I showed Thierry didn’t even have the last 40 minutes. I mean, it was just rough sketches of the film. When Thierry said that he was serious about putting the film in Cannes, could I show him at least those last 40 minutes – could I rough them in and show him… The film didn’t have to be finished, could I just show him a complete film, I immediately did something that turned out to be the greatest thing because I was stuck on how I would edit that last sequence. I’d been pounding away at the last sequence. And I just roughed through it and then I took sequences that were going to be used for flashbacks – a sort of tumbling van, a bunny in the road, different things that made this ending, this abstract ending of the film. I sent it to Thierry and he calls me up two weeks – three weeks before they were officially supposed to announce films that were being accepted because he knows that for me to complete it now to go to print, he has to tell me early. He leaves a message on my message, “This is Thierry Fremaux. Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into competition at Cannes.” Which is everything that I’ve dreamed about my whole life up until the day that they rejected “Buffalo 66.”

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